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Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Round-Up: India’s Surprising Election

Posted by K.E. White on May 19, 2009

With all the attention given to Pakistan’s extremist threat, insufficient attention has been paid to India’s recent parliamentary election.

What’s the big news? The incumbent Congress Party (and its allies under the United Progress Alliance) won a resounding re-election. The UPA’s opposition on the right—the more hawkish and socially conservative BJP—lost seats, while its leftist critics were routed. These results defied predictions of a much tighter race.

But more importantly this election, juggling nine national parties and dozens of state parties and 400 million voters, rendered a decisive political judgment in India: awarding the Congress Party enough seats to pursue a national agenda, and not be held hostage by smaller, more insular parties.

The New York Times offers this macro-analysis of the election by Rahul Singh, who ushers in a new era of stable governance (this is the first time a majority government has won re-election in India) and the ascent of a younger, more secular worldview.

(Note: Singh’s last point is only partially true. While the number of under-40 members has increased, the average age of the lower house—Lok Sabha—is higher, making it the 3rd oldest assembly in India’s history.)

Anshul Chaturvedi blames the BJP loss not on policies, age or message but on tactics. His interesting post, drawing on years of following BJP politics, portrays a party made irrelevant by rooting its political power in coalition jockeying and neglecting its base.

The Times of India also offers this article exploring just how the Congress Party overcame the challenge of February’s Mumbai attacks. The article credits Indian foreign minister Pranab Mukherjee’s political tactics with blunting BJP criticism of the Congress Party’s handling of homeland security.

But, as Keith Jones points out, the Congress Party’s sweeping parliamentary victory represents a mere 2 percent increase in popular support. But this line of attack obscures the greater truth. Indians, presented with two national coalition parties and gobs of local parties, opted for UPA coalition led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

How will this election affect US foreign policy? Myra MacDonald, writing for Reuters, shows that tensions between India and Pakistan are still high. This might stymie US efforts to cool tempers so Pakistan can focus on its counter-insurgency, not to mention resolving the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir. Making progress on these fronts permits strengthened civilian rule in Pakistan, which can provide stability over its border with Afghanistan and battle terrorists posing a direct threat to America and its allies.

But what MacDonald omits in her article is the significance of the US-India nuclear deal brokered by the Bush administration. The nuclear deal threatened UPA’s parliamentary control in 2008. With the Congress Party’s reestablished mandate, this nuclear linkage may assist future diplomatic engagement.

Will a now strengthened UPA, popular Obama administration and extremist-battling Pakistan be able to make tough decisions regarding Pakistan?

Maybe. But with (a perhaps duplicitous) Pakistani regime ramping up its nuclear arsenal, the road ahead will be bumpy.

Posted in India | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Michael Krepon & Shuja Nawaz discuss India-Pakistan Relations After Last Week’s Terrorist Attacks on PBS

Posted by K.E. White on December 2, 2008

Below is the transcript from tonight’s NewsHour discussion of India-Pakistan relations days after the Mumbai terrorist attacks. Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center, and Shuja Nawaz, author of Crossed Swords: Pakistan, Its Army, and the Wars Within, offer a refreshingly nuanced discussion about the challenges facing Pakistan, India and America after last week’s deadly events. Ray Suarez moderates the discussion.

One can listen to the program here, but reading the transcript—which includes helpful hyperlink resources—may help flesh-out the discussion.

Highlights:

  • Pakistan’s military stress in combating terrorist groups in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas
  • Pakistan’s past links—through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence Service—to the group thought responsible for the India attacks, Lashkar-e-Taiba
  • India’s frustrating position: facing public pressure for decisive action, but all options in front of it—full scale military movement in Pakistan, a limited military response, or air-strikes against terrorist bases in Pakistani-controlled Kashmir—have serious drawbacks
  • America’s delicate role as mediator. On the one hand, the United States must stand with India—a critical new partner in the region, with whom a nuclear deal was just approved. On the other hand, Pakistan—a domestically turbulent nuclear power—plays a critical role in battling Al Qaeda and other terrorists along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Below is the transcript from the NewsHour segment:

Ray Suarez: “Michael Krepon, today India pointed to Pakistan and said it is demanding strong action against those who perpetrated this action. What does that mean? What can Pakistan do at this point?”

read full transcript here

Posted in India, Pakistan, Terrorism | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

India-Pakistan First: Pakstan to Send ISI Chief to India for Intelligence Sharing

Posted by proliferationpr on November 28, 2008

Reporting of the recent terrorist carnage in India can be found seemingly everywhere, but the Times of Indiain my opinion–offers the best one-stop hub for updates.

And one of those updates is the unlikely move by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani to send ISI Chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha to India for inteligence sharing. The ISI is Pakistan’s military intelligence service, and boasts a grisly and controversial history–connections with previous terrorist attacks against India; ties to Islamic extremist groups; and, finally, strong-arming Pakistan’s internal politics.

This move, coming on the heels of Pakistan’s Prime Minister closing ISI’s political wing, show Pakistan’s apparent determination to 1) reel in intra-state instability and 2) prove non-involvement in the deadly, coordinated and still on-going terrorist attacks in India.

Update: Gotta love Pakistan’s new liberal order

Pakistan’s leading opposition party is already laying into Gilani’s move, criticizing Gilani for giving credence to Indian claims of Pakistani involvement in the attacks. The spokesman for the opposition PML party suggests a joint-task force would have been a better response.

Posted in India, Pakistan, Terrorism | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

Senate Approves US-India Deal: Two Wrap-Ups of the New Nuclear Nonproliferation Wrinkle

Posted by proliferationpresswm on October 4, 2008

Time Magazine teases out the practical and symbolic effects of the nuclear deal to India. Yes, they get can now receive more sensitive technologies—but the real impact is breaking the India-Pakistan ‘hyphen’.

But—as Mother Jones notes—will the deal risk a break-down of global non-proliferation efforts? And Asia-One News tacks the deal’s winners and losers.

But one thing is clear: US President George W. Bush just profoundly shifted the international system, and with little fanfare or even notice from Americans. (Though a teetering economy, riveting presidential campaign and two on-going wars would push almost any other story before the fold)

 

Source Material

From Time.Com:

But one thing India does not doubt is that the 123 Agreement will transform the way the country is viewed in the eyes of world. According to strategic affairs analyst Manoj Joshi, without access to international nuclear trade, India “could boast of our bomb, our BPO prowess, economic growth, invites to the G-8 meetings and candidacy for the UN Security Council seat. But we were firmly at a different level from, say, China. They could import powerful computers, uranium, sensitive machine tools, software and components for satellites that were denied to us.” Today, that changed, as did the international community’s policy of equating India and Pakistan as nuclear weapons states. As Indian and U.S. officials have repeatedly pointed out, the deal has “de-hyphenated” India from Pakistan. “For decades India has chafed at the world’s tendency to lock India into a bipolar South Asian framework with Pakistan,” says Joshi. “Now, decisively, the rules have been changed for India, and pointedly not for Pakistan.” The deal also has a bearing on the regional balance of power, making clear the U.S.’s proclivity to India and sending a signal to Beijing that it has other options in the Asian region.

On a slower news day, the deal might have gotten more fanfare. But in Washington, immediately after voting, the Senate went back to deliberating the financial bailout package. The Bush administration had achieved one of its most important foreign affairs successes, but there was more pressing business to be sorted out at home. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is expected in India later this week to ink the agreement with Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee. In India, news channels interspersed images from the deal being passed with footage of Oct. 2 bomb blasts in the northeastern state of Tripura. Neither of the governments that led these historic efforts will benefit from it today. But for both, the deal will be a significant and unprecedented legacy.

From Mother Jones

The consequences of the U.S.-India nuclear deal will show themselves slowly, and perhaps in part for that reason, not much has been made of it in the press or in Congress. Immediately after casting their votes last night, Senators returned to debating the financial industry bailout package, the India deal just another piece of business checked off the list. For a measure so important to the future of the spread of nuclear weapons, said Dorgan, “never has something of such moment and such significance and so much importance been debated in such a short period of time and given such short shrift.” 

Posted in Bush administration, India, Nuclear, WMD | Tagged: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Pakistan Makes Its Own Nuclear Move

Posted by K.E. White on September 19, 2008

Business Standard reports on the liklihood of Pakistan–in clear reaction to the US-India nuclear deal–pushing for a nuclear deal with China. 

In its bid to offset the impact of Indo-US nuclear deal, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari will take up the acquisition of nuclear fuel technology from China during his forthcoming visit.

The Pakistan government has decided to set up two nuclear power plants worth Rs 139 billion to overcome the country’s energy crisis, official sources were quoted as saying by the Aaj Kal Urdu daily.

Zardari, who is expected to visit China in the near future, will discuss the acquisition of fuel technology for the two new plants with the Chinese leadership, the sources said.

While one may consider India a prime candidate for nuclear commerce, many of its attributes–steady regime, peaceful political turnovers, even accepting terrorism probelms–Pakistan’s regimes have not shown themselves durable. While jockeying between weak deomcratic regimes and strong-man dictatorships, expanding Pakistan’s nuclear arsneal and power facilities comes with additional headaches: abrupt regime change and the real and potent presence of radical Islamic terror-groups.

Time will shown if Pakistan’s newly elected President and re-charged (if unity-less) Paraliament can foster the stability, liberalism and security so lacking in Pakistan’s recent past. And–addressing worse-case scenarios–the Pakastani military has shown strong and responsible control over Pakistan’s nuclear hardware. But Pakistan’s four-pronged pressures–economic woes, Kashmir, periodic political upheaval and the worrisome presence & support of Islamic terrorism–keep international concern over this country at a high level.

Posted in China, Diplomacy, India, Nuclear, Pakistan, U.S. India Nuclear Deal, WMD | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Bill Clinton: US India Nuclear Deal “Should be Supported,” But Keeps Door Open to Revisions

Posted by K.E. White on March 13, 2008

In an apparent sign of things maybe–maybe not–to come, Bill Clinton indicated his support for the US-India nuclear deal. This is not shocking, given Hillary’s vigorous support for the US India nuclear deal. But former President Clinton did leave the door open to revisions–suggesting another grueling round of negotiations should his wife, Hillary Clinton, be elected President this November.

From Sify News:

Underlining strong bipartisan consensus for the deal in his country, he said the US has a made “a decision across parties to build strategic partnership with India in the 21st century”.

“The deal could have been stronger on the “non-proliferation side”, Clinton replied when asked what portions of the deal he would have liked to change if he were the President.

“We did not want to give the Chinese an excuse to develop nuclear weapons,” Clinton replied when asked why such a deal could not be reached during his tenure as the president between 1992 to 2000.

“The agreement should be supported. There’s a strong level of trust between India and the US. The US would be willing should Indians wish to revisit some provisions of the deal,” Clinton said when asked whether a Democratic Party administration would like to renegotiate the deal if they come to power next year.

Is Bill speaking for himself, or rather the policy of a Hillary Clinton administration? Only time will tell.

For more on Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy, read her recent policy brief in Foreign Affairs.

The Decemeber 2007 brief does touch on the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT):

But we lost that opportunity by refusing to let the UN inspectors finish their work in Iraq and rushing to war instead. Moreover, we diverted vital military and financial resources from the struggle against al Qaeda and the daunting task of building a Muslim democracy in Afghanistan. At the same time, we embarked on an unprecedented course of unilateralism: refusing to pursue ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, abandoning our commitment to nuclear nonproliferation, and turning our backs on the search for peace in the Middle East. Our withdrawal from the Kyoto Protocol and refusal to participate in any international effort to deal with the tremendous challenges of climate change further damaged our international standing.

Posted in America, Clinton, India, Nuclear Deal, US | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

US-India Nuclear Deal: Will Time Run Out?

Posted by K.E. White on January 18, 2008

While groups may be coalescing against the US-India nuclear deal, its passage is still an open question in the twilight days of the Bush administration. But will it meet its summer 2008 deadline?

This AFP article skillfully dissects the difficulties of the US-India nuclear deal:

The nuclear deal with India is virtually stuck on two fronts — in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s administration, where communist and other leftist coalition parties are against it, and at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), where New Delhi is struggling to forge critical atomic safeguards.

Bush and Singh agreed more than two years ago that Washington would provide India with nuclear fuel and technology even though the Asian nation has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

But India had to place selected nuclear facilities under international safeguards, including inspections, which has to be agreed upon by the IAEA board of directors.

A third round of talks between Indian and IAEA officials ended last week without resolution on India’s demands for a mechanism to create a strategic reserve to meet lifetime fuel supply for its civilian nuclear plants, as well as “corrective measures” in the event of stoppage of fuel to power plants, experts said.

Even if IAEA agreed on the safeguards, the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, another regulatory body which also operates by consensus, has to agree to a US proposal to exempt India from a “full scope safeguards” condition of nuclear supply.

Then, an operational agreement for the nuclear deal that has already been adopted by India and the United States as well as the IAEA safeguards has to be approved by the US Congress before summer for it to be implemented by year end, experts said.

The deadline stems from a tight 2008 legislative calendar ahead of the November US presidential elections.

Some might see the quick exit of Nicolas Burns—an architect of the deal—from the White as a symbolic sign of defeat, support for the deal still exists. The White House still has seemingly locked up key members of the NSG, making that roadblock less likely.

And while domestic opposition to the deal in both America and especially India has grown, the deal has still continued to inch along forward.

Below are clips showing the deal’s continued support from the governments of Britain, Australia and China.

Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown continues to support of the US-India nuclear deal, but notes any UK-India nuclear cooperation would require some extra work:

Ahead of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s visit here, Britain on Friday voiced interest in having civil nuclear cooperation with India but said any such collaboration will have to await changes in the international rules.

The nuclear issue is expected to figure in the talks that Brown will have with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh here on Monday. The Summit talks will also cover the subjects of terrorism, climate change and business cooperation besides regional issues.

”Civil Nuclear cooperation (between India and the UK) is dependent on international status (of rules of trade),” British High Commissioner Sir Richard Stagg said while briefing journalists on Brown’s two-day maiden visit here.

Noting that Britain supports the Indo-US nuclear deal, he said the agreement will ”open opportunities for collaboration which do not exist at present”.

However, Stagg said the ”real opportunity for major India-UK collaboration will require changes” in the status of international rules which New Delhi ”is trying to do” with the IAEA and the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG).

China also supports—or rather will not derail—the nuclear deal. From a Hindu report discussing India Prime Minister Singh’s recent Beijing trip:

He said China had offered support for civil nuclear cooperation in power generation.

China is an important and influential member of the 45-member NSG.

“I cannot say I have got a firm, definite answer but my own feeling is that the relationship of trust and confidence is now establishing, and we are succeeding in that. When the issue comes before relevant agencies, I do not think China will be an obstacle. I can’t say I have an assurance today,” Dr. Singh said when he was asked whether China would support India’s case at the NSG.

And while Australia’s new Labour government has soured on selling uranium to India, it also seems not willing to block the US-India nuclear deal:

AUSTRALIA has left open the option of supporting international uranium sales to India, even though the Rudd Government has ruled out Australian yellowcake exports to the energy-hungry South Asian giant.

Foreign Minister Stephen Smith announced earlier this week that Australia would not sell uranium to India unless it signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

But a spokesman for Mr Smith said yesterday that the Government has not yet made a decision on whether to block uranium sales to India by other countries — an option open to Australia and members of the 45-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which sets global export controls for nuclear materials.

Posted in India, Nicolas Burns, Nuclear Deal, United States | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

US-India Nuclear Deal: Dead Or Not?

Posted by K.E. White on October 17, 2007

US India Nuclear Deal: Dead or not? Here are two conflicting news accounts.

The International Herald Tribune has this post-script on the US India nuclear deal:

His coalition partners don’t want him to force an early election. Polls are due in 2009, and which politician wants to give up political power for the sake of nuclear power?

One important ally, Muthuvel Karunanidhi of Tamil Nadu State, went ahead and congratulated the prime minister for “gladdening the hearts of people” by patching up with the leftist parties.

“Frankly, the deal is not important,” he told the NDTV news channel. “The government is important.”

Unless Singh has staged a tactical retreat to take the Marxists by surprise in a later offensive, the so-called 123 agreement with the United States is now dead.

But wait, The Business Standards has this:

Congress spokesperson Shakil Ahmed today denied that the Indo-US nuclear deal was on hold, but stopped short of saying that the deal was on track and gave no time frame for its operationalisation.

When asked repeatedly asked about the deal’s future, Ahmed said: “The deal is not on hold. It has not been put in cold storage. Your (media’s) assessment is wrong.”

He also pointed out that the Prime Minister had never said that the deal was dead or on hold.

Perhaps Singh is waiting to bring the deal back during a less heated time. But exactly when that time will be (after 2009 elections?), seems unclear.

And will India find support for the deal with the new American president?

Posted in America, India, U.S. India Nuclear Deal, White House | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Nuclear Deal Not Gone Yet: Singh IBSA Nuclear Buzz in Johannesburg

Posted by K.E. White on October 17, 2007

Manmohan Singh

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh makes nuclear buzz with his meeting with leaders of Brazil and South Africa, for the second India-Brazil-South Africa Summit (IBSA).

From NDTV:

In his bilateral talks with [Thabo] Mbeki [Luis Inacio] Lula, the Prime Minister will try to garner support of South Africa and Brazil for the India-US nuclear deal.

It is a diplomatic exercise that is also aimed at getting across the message back home that India may have put its safeguards negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on hold but plans to keep its NSG diplomacy on track.

What’s the IBSA?

 

It’s a formal meeting of the leaders of India, Brazil and South Africa—leading nations of Asia, South America and Africa. The summits emerged out of earlier meetings between the nations’ foreign ministers.

Manmohan Singh, Thabo Mbeki and Luis Inacio Lula

AllAfrica.com gives this summit rundown:

The Summit of Heads of State and Government will be preceded by an IBSA Ministerial Working Breakfast hosted by Minister Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma with her counterparts from India and Brazil, Foreign Ministers Shri Pranab Mukherjee and Dr Celso Luiz Nunes Amorim at the Union Buildings in Pretoria.

It is expected that a number of trilateral agreements will be signed following the meeting of Heads of State and Government focusing on shipping, ICT and energy India-Brazil-SA have very vibrant democracies, common views on major global issues and are substantial players in their respective sub-regional economies.

Collectively India, Brazil and South Africa have a population of over 1.3 billion people and a combined market of almost U.S. $2 trillion.

For interested readers, here’s the first IBSA summit’s joint communiqué and the 2005 closing statement from a 2005 IBSA Dialogue Forum.

And The Citizen shows the soccer-connection between South Africa (2010 World Cup host) and Brazil:

Ahead of serious political, economic and social discussions between the leaders, Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva congratulated President Thabo Mbeki on winning the rights to hold the World Cup in South Africa.

“I (also) want to congratulate you because South Africa has decided to hire a Brazilian coach who has a long track record… winning the world cup in the past,” Lula da Silva said.

 

Posted in Brazil, IBSA, India, India Brazil South Africa Summit, Luis Inacio Lula, Manmohan Singh, Nuclear, South Africa, Thabo Mbeki, U.S. India Nuclear Deal | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

US India Nuclear Deal “On Pause”

Posted by K.E. White on October 15, 2007

Apparently a cryogenically frozen nuclear deal is not a dead deal.

From the Indo-Asian News Service:

‘The nuclear deal is not off, but is on a state of pause. It is in suspended animation, like the Karnataka assembly,’ the minister said here, not wanting to be quoted on this sensitive issue without proper authorization.

And from NDTV:

”The Prime Minister explained to President Bush that certain difficulties have arisen with respect to the operationalisation of the India-US civil nuclear cooperation agreement,” a release issued by Prime Minister’s Media Advisor Sanjaya Baru said.

The conversation came in the wake of the statement made by the Prime Minister last week on Friday that it would be a disappointment if the deal does not not (sic) come through and that it was ”not the end of life.”

The Prime Minister, who had staked a lot in clinching the deal and to get it operationalised, made the Friday statement in the backdrop of unrelenting opposition to the deal from the Left parties which had warned of grave consequences, an (sic) euphemism for withdrawing support to the UPA government, if the deal was implemented.

Posted in America, India, Nuclear Deal, U.S. India Nuclear Deal | Leave a Comment »